Mark and I were having a conversation about resilience and how people can make it through austerity intact and fit for an as yet unknown future. Somehow as a workforce, we must be ready for all possible futures yet at present there seems to be more uncertainty than ever. He told me how he was doing some work for a big client using a fatigue index. I had to admit that I had never heard of such a thing though it wasn’t overly challenging to come up with some idea of what it was.
Fatigue indices have been in use in the world of sport for some time as a measure of anaerobic capacity, or endurance. It is the rate at which athletic power declines. It is a measure of how tired you are.
Mark was more interested in its application to the world of work. A tired workforce can be a real danger to themselves and their customers. There are some industries where attention and awareness are vital, such as in air traffic controllers or rail network providers. There are some jobs however where, if you stop to look out of the window for a while nothing serious is likely to happen.
The trick then is to understand how fatigued the workers are and to develop some coping strategies. In the main this means getting them away from dangerous tasks.
It got me thinking if there was such a thing as a boredom index. There are indices of the people who are most likely to get bored at work, presumably as they are unfulfilled but this may not be the same thing.
One of the problems that we face at work, especially when doing repetitive tasks or doing things that we have done many times before is that we come blind to them. We do them without thinking. How often have you arrived somewhere and wondered how you managed to drive all that way without giving it any thought?
Getting the balance right between boredom, which can lead to mistakes, and being able to do something automatically, which may improve results is an interesting challenge.
Perhaps I should start and index.